Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘divorce’

Going Along To Get Along Kills

Relationships continue to weigh on my heart.  The longing of God for each of us to connect to Him (and one another) with depth and honesty beats loudly in my mind.  The tendency of humanity is to settle for much less than God desires in our relationship with Him and with others.  Truly connected relationships are what our own hearts long for as well.  Contrary to the secular refrain, no one wants to be ‘tolerated.’  We want to be understood, valued and enjoyed.  So does God.

“Tolerance” is the cry of the world; “Treasured” is the cry written by God. 

Connected relationships are better described as partnerships chosen by those involved.  If there is no choice, their is no real relationship.  It is the explanation of that oft-asked question, “Why did God give free will if He knew sin would be the result?”  Without choice, we could not be in a real, connected relationship with God.   If our human relationships aren’t sweetened by choice–if we are dictators to others–we isolate ourselves.  If we simply go along to get what we want (or avoid conflict), everyone loses.  Choosing connected relationships brings richness to life!

Yet, all around us we see chaos and disconnection.  Homes are destroyed by divorce, churches split and our political system spews nastiness continually.  No one wants the reality we see, so how have we deteriorated to such a mess? I can answer with my own confession, and I think it speaks for the majority:

I often trade CONNECTION for whatever is easier.  You, see I like comfort; the easy road is typically my go-to choice.

Sometimes the easy road actually is a good choice, but  “Good is the enemy of best.” We fall to the temptation to ‘go along to get along.’ We sacrifice what we know is right because that is the expedient thing to do.  That is how Jesus was consigned to the Cross in 30 A.D.  We do the same when we trade God’s desires for the easy road.

Going through the motions may get the job done…but settling is always a travesty.

The work of relationships takes us out of our comfort zones and easy chairs.  Understanding the cast of characters that compel us to choose the easy route sheds light that helps us embrace the challenge.

  • Sometimes we are not clear on what is actually being asked by a relationship partner.  We must be willing to do the hard work to figure out what is needed.  Relationships are not about what we get out of them–or what we do for others.  However, when we love, we value others and are valued which means we do things for each other!
  • Other times we simply cannot do what is being asked and don’t clearly communicate our reluctance–or our needs.  Here we have two parallel paths to walk.  We need to work on our communication AND build up our strength.  If the ‘ask’ is reasonable and beneficial for both but we haven’t developed the skills–it is time to work on those skills!
  • Sometimes we simply are not willing to do what is needed.  This is particularly common as we age and grow weary.  A modicum of maturity restrains our reactions so our relationships appear okay–and sometimes we believe the lie ourselves. Dis-connected hearts, though, are a sham that will eventually implode!   Simply going through the motions (or doing what we’ve always done) does not satisfy our hearts or God’s.  Settling is the beginning of a dying relationship. Recognizing the danger and valuing what God values will blast this darkness away.

Healthy relationships matter!  Make a commitment to do the work of building unity.  Ephesians 4:1-3 offers great wisdom:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

We have an incredible calling.  We have an amazing God who shows us how to relate to others.  Christ who left the glories and comforts of heaven to redeem those who would reject Him is our Savior–and our example.  Living surrendered to Him will sweeten every relationship.  In fact, until we are solid in our connection with God, we will try to make other relationships do what only He can do.  He is our source.  Plug in and invite others to join!

For more practical tips, visit:  ABCs of Relationships.

 

 

Faith Story: Seeing His Glory In a Shattered Home

Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalms 37:5

The devil specializes in sneak attacks. A deacon, a Sunday school teacher and husband to a faithful women’s leader, Jim never saw the battle line forming. In fact, his plans included only rejoicing and celebrating. Having renewed their vows at a recent anniversary celebration, marriage woes seemed the last of his worries. Returning from a spiritually uplifting Men’s Retreat, Jim thought the weekend only held a celebration of his birthday. Instead, it marked the beginning of a very fierce, painful battle.

Years of unresolved heart issues exploded for Jim’s wife; she left their marriage to begin a new life with a friend of Jim. Devastation, depression and desperate confusion marked Jim’s days. Victory in the early days of the battle was simply mustering the courage to face a new day. The promises of God seemed distant, but they were his lifeline. Jim says of that time, “I clung to the promise in Psalms 37 that if I committed my way to God, He would act. He has; but not in the ways I wanted Him to and not at the speed I wanted. I would never have chosen this, but without it, I would never have known God as I do. He has kept His promises.”

His wife’s decision irrevocably altered the structure of Jim’s life. An empty home, strained family relations and gatherings, difficulty with continually encountering the co-worker and disruption in the church family all followed her choice. Jim stepped down from leadership in the church and eventually sought a job that kept him from the loneliness of home more consistently. The scriptures he had taught for so long sometimes seemed to mock him…the promises felt empty and the heartache overwhelming. Yet, he faithfully sought biblical counsel from pastors, family and friends’ and pressed on. Time passed bringing new understandings, but not the deeply desired restoration of the marriage. Throughout the battle, Jim sought and shared glimpses of God’s hand; he was a faithful, albeit broken, witness for God.

lonely

In marriage, Jim had been controlling; the concept of forgiving infidelity beyond the scope of his world. Yet in his heartache, he came face-to-face with the reality of the pain of love willing to forgive. He felt, too, the pain of that willingness rejected. Gradually he began to see the glory of Jesus Christ in an entirely new dimension. Recognizing the cost of forgiveness and the pain of rejection, he could not help but be awed at the marvelous, perseverant love of God. His heart bowed in humble victory before God’s incredible love.

Understanding in such a personal way is a suffering that Jim does not wish on anyone, but grasping the preciousness of Christ is a privilege he does not dismiss. His victory did not look like he expected; he thought that his initial commitment to God would be the key to restoring his marriage. Instead, it was the key to expanding his experience of God.

The victories in our Christian life do not transform us into picture-perfect Normal Rockwell prints. Sin, broken-ness and rejection wound souls…both those who hurt and those who are hurt suffer. Healing in Christ is one person at a time, one life at a time. We cannot be healed for another but we can encourage another to seek healing. Victory stories are not about perfect people; they are about our perfect God. Give Him the glory, great things He has done and will do!

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